PHMSA With A New Proposal for U.S. Pipeline Operators to Proactively Manage Pipeline Integrity

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PHMSA With A New Proposal for U.S. Pipeline Operators to Proactively Manage Pipeline Integrity

Mon, 03/21/2016 - 16:21
The National Pipeline Mapping System (© 2016 PHMSA)
The National Pipeline Mapping System (© 2016 PHMSA)

In the wake of a number of recent high-profile pipeline gas leaks / explosions in the United States and resulting uncertainty among U.S. pipeline operators over the status of more stringent measures to regulate their activity, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced new proposals last week that will update safety requirements for the country's 3,218,688-km natural gas transmission network. According to PHMSA the proposed rules provide pipeline operators with regulatory certainty, and responds to both Congressional mandates and outside safety recommendations for pipeline operators to proactively manage pipeline integrity matters.

"The significant growth in the nation's production, usage and commercialization of natural gas is placing unprecedented demands on the nation's pipeline system," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This proposal includes a number of commonsense measures that will better ensure the safety of communities living alongside pipeline infrastructure and protect our environment."

In particular, the proposed changes to gas transmission safety regulations are expected to result in fewer incidents, which could lead to a reduction in gas released into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases (GHG). The proposed rule is expected to result in net annual average reductions of 900-1,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 4,600-8,100 metric tons of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. The rule also proposes changes to the way that pipeline operators secure and inspect gas transmission pipeline infrastructure following extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and flooding.

The PHMSA's proposal would moreover revise and strengthen federal Pipeline Safety Regulations by:

  • Modifying repair criteria for pipelines inside and outside of high consequence areas,
  • Providing additional direction on how to evaluate internal inspection results to identify anomalies,
  • Clarifying requirements for conducting risk assessment for integrity management, including addressing seismic risk,
  • Expanding mandatory data collection and integration requirements for integrity management, including data validation and seismicity,
  • Requiring additional post-construction quality inspections to address coating integrity and cathodic protection issues,
  • Requiring new safety features for pipeline launchers and receivers, and Requiring a systematic approach to verify a pipeline's maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) and requiring operators to report MAOP overruns.


Submitted by johnny lopez (not verified) on Sun, 04/03/2016 - 16:55 Permalink

Considering the age of some of pipeline systems, this could be a significant financial impact to some major operators. Many operators are currently cutting back workforce and budget, they seem to be struggling just to meet minimum compliance requirements.

Yes, this will be a significant impact to such operators. As it should be! Older systems require more scrutiny, not less. If the operator cannot provide adequate scrutiny, then it's time for them to ante up or move on and sell the asset to someone who can properly look after it.

Submitted by Dennis (not verified) on Mon, 04/04/2016 - 21:49 Permalink

Just because times a hard for the industry, it CANNOT override public safety. Between older practices that were unsafe compared to our current technology and the aging infrastructure that is difficult or impossible to inspect, every operator should know exactly what they are responsible for and be sure to operate those facilities safely. We wouldn't allow traffic on a structurally damaged bridge even if it can't afford to be repaired,public safety is paramount., and the same it should allpy to all underground utilities.

Submitted by Bob (not verified) on Tue, 04/26/2016 - 02:50 Permalink

Haven't read the proposed updates to the regs, but do they call out specific incidents and explain how the proposed regs would allevitate them?

Submitted by P.S.Balasubramanian (not verified) on Mon, 01/09/2017 - 11:17 Permalink

Assessing the complete pipeline route, at drawing board stage itself appropriate and correct coat and wrap system to be incorporated and through inspection of the coat and wrap to inspected at the construction stage itself. An excellent coat and wrap will provide a much longer life to the Pipeline.

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